Young people with lived experience in foster care must have a seat at the table to transform laws and policies that shape their own lives.


What is Public Policy?

  • Public Policy is what the government and elected officials decided to do or not do about an issue.
  • Public Policy involves making choices on whether and how to address problems that affect society 
  • Key aspects of public policy include:
    • Identifying issues that need attention 
    • Proposing potential solutions 
    • Implementing and evaluating decided actions 

What is Legislation?

  • Legislation refers to laws enacted by a lawmaking body 
  • At the federal level, legislation involves U.S. Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) passing bills. 
  • FosterClub advocates for legislation that empowers youth in care

Nothing About Us Without Us

We believe that when the System listens to young people with lived experience in foster care, it does better. We refer to the young people who step up to inform public policy and legistlation as Lived Experience Leaders — or LEx Leaders, for short. ​​​​​​


Timeline of Major Child Welfare Legislation.

Below, we've provided a quick summary of major legislation that impact the foster care system, highlighting items that might be most interesting to young people in the FosterClub network who are interested in advocating for change.

Why it matters to young people:

  • $400 million to aid young people during the pandemic, delivered through the Chafee program.

FosterClub's role:

  • FosterClub was first to survey young people when the pandemic hit, recognizing the struggle transition age-youth were facing. 
  • FosterClub led the #UpChafee campaign effort
  • supported the implementation once funding was provided to States.

Why it matters to young people:

  • Now requires that states extend Medicaid coverage to all former foster youth, including those who were in care in another state.

FosterClub's role:

  • FosterClub LEx leaders educated Congressional members, including speaking at briefings about the impact of not having health coverage.

Why it matters to young people:

  • Federal funds now prioritize preventing foster care entries, emphasizing mental health, substance use, and parenting support.
  • Concentration on suitable placements, reducing unnecessary group care.
  • Chafee program broadened to cater to younger youth, with an emphasis on lasting bonds and permanency.

FosterClub's role:

  • FosterClub and LEx leaders mobilized for years educating policymakers about why prevention was necessary, how inappropriate group care harms young people, and the need to expand support for transition age youth. 
  • Priorities from the National Policy Council informed lawmakers on the urgency of addressing these needs. 
  • FosterClub, along with national partners, established FamilyFirstAct.org to center resources and voices from lived experience for implementation. 

Why it matters to young people:

  • Requires child welfare agencies, courts, and local education agencies to work together and use data to ensure that there are minimal interruptions to a child's learning, which often means that children and youth entering foster care remain in the same school.

FosterClub's role:

  • FosterClub coordinated a group of California Youth Ambassadors to uplift the challenges and supports students in foster care need to succeed.

Why it matters to young people:

  • The law champions foster youth rights by ensuring knowledge of their rights, access to essential documents, transition planning from age 14, and promoting normalcy through activities like sports and field trips.
  • Foster care mandates include reporting missing children to law enforcement within 24 hours, ensuring they have vital documents like birth certificates and IDs, and upholding prudent parenting standards for foster parents.This includes policies for rapid location of runaway youth, understanding reasons for their absence, and screening for potential trafficking victims.

FosterClub's role:

  • FosterClub supported the National Policy Council in shifting the public focus from only supporting trafficked youth to also proactive prevention. The Council highlighted the need for young people to know their rights while in care.

Why it matters to young people:

Includes Foster Youth Provision, which extends Medicaid coverage to former foster youth (FFY) until age 26

FosterClub's role:

When Congress made it a requirement that young people could stay on their parents' health insurance policy until age 26, Lived Experience Leaders from FosterClub told Congress that young people from foster care should be allowed to stay on Medicaid (since the government had taken on parent responsibilities for them).

Why it matters to young people:

  • Enhanced outcomes for youth in care and foster care adoptions by:
  • Allocating federal funds to ensure Native youth stay within their communities.
  • Advocating for sibling unity in placements.
  • Strengthening support for relative caregivers, particularly legal guardians, and enhancing adoption incentives with mandatory transition planning.

FosterClub's role:

  • FosterClub and LEx Leaders educated policymakers on the need to reduce unnecessary time spent in foster care and ensure youth had connections to siblings, tribes, communities and families.

This is when FosterClub was born. (2000)


Why it matters to young people:

  • Provides funds + attention  to establish support transition to adulthood. 
  • Creates requirements about reporting National Youth in Transition Database information. It expanded opportunities for programs providing education, training, and employment services; counseling; housing assistance and financial support; and other services for foster youth to prepare for living on their own and to achieve self-sufficiency.  Established what the Chafee program and emphasized permanency 
  • States use their Chafee funds differently for things like room + board, educational assistance, career exploration, mentoring, and preventive health activities.
  • Supporting older youth in foster care. Eligibility–people who were in foster care from 14-21, people who aged out, people who left foster care after age 16. It also emphasized permanency by requiring the continuation of efforts to find a permanent placement while concurrently providing independent living activities and increasing funding for adoption incentive payments. 

FosterClub's role:

  • While this legislation passed before FosterClub, a small handful of young people from foster care provided critical testimony and advocacy that resulted in the passage of this legislation.

”FosterClub has made me CURIOUS. After my AllStar Internship and first Board Meeting, I developed a deep curiosity for Policy, Partnerships, and Marketing. I constantly put myself in a mindset of curiosity and environment of learning all due to the conversations and experiences with FosterClubs staff, Board of Directors, partners, and advocates.”

— Cody, past FosterClub Intern and Board Member


Recent Public Policy News


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How does the Family First Act help youth in foster care?

On February 9th, 2018, the Family First Act (FFA) was signed into law. The historic passing of the FFA would not have occurred without the voices of Lived Experience Leaders (LEx) joining FosterClub in promoting and supporting the passing of the FFA. As we celebrate the five year anniversary of the Family First Act, FosterClub reflects on how this historic...

Entering foster care
Extension to age 21
Family relationships
Transition (aging out)
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LEx Leaders meet with Federal Foster Care Leadership

On Friday, February 10th, FosterClub co-hosted a roundtable discussion with the Administration for Children and Families on the experiences of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care as well as the importance of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) data collection. The roundtable brought together a group of Lived Experienced Leaders (LEx) to engage with Assistant Secretary January Contreras (Administration for Children...

LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth
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Council Members share Immigration Priority with Federal Leaders

This week, the National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council engaged with newly confirmed Administration of Children, Youth & Families Commissioner Rebecca Jones Gaston and Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Aysha Schomburg and members of their team. Council Members shared their newly published priority: Supporting Immigrant Children & Youth in Foster Care . Members were able to share reflections, personal...

Education
Entering foster care
Extension to age 21
Family relationships
Health care
Higher education
Independent living
Mental health
Permanence
Rights in foster care
Transition (aging out)
Well-being
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New Priority Released: Supporting Immigrant Youth & Children in Foster Care

The National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council is pleased to release its 19th priority statement: Supporting Immigrant Children & Youth in Foster Care . Recent years have seen an increase in attention to children who enter the United States as immigrants. While the focus has largely been on those who enter via the southern border, the experiences of...

Adoption
Entering foster care
Family relationships
Health care
Higher education
Independent living
Mental health
Permanence
Rights in foster care
Transition (aging out)
Well-being
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What LEx Leaders Say about ICWA

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a case ( Haaland v. Brackeen ) that will impact Native youth and families across the United States - especially those who are in foster care. FosterClub Lived Experience (LEx) Leaders have a lot to say about ICWA. What are Lived Experience Leaders Saying? Jade Tillequots ICWA...

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LEx Leaders tell the United States Supreme Court to #ProtectICWA in Amicus Brief

FosterClub is pleased to share an amicus brief from former foster youth filed at the Supreme Court earlier this month. The brief was supported by several Lived Experience (LEx) leaders and includes thirteen Native Leaders’ experiences and recommendations. This brief discusses how the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) “supports [LEx leaders and] allows them to maintain their familial, cultural, religious...

Well-being
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